I want to start off with a question: When you think of the word “beautiful”, what do you think of first? That model on the cover of a Vogue magazine? Flowers? Kendall Jenner? Nature? How many things do you think of before you think of ‘yourself’? Do you even think of yourself when you say the word beautiful?
My own answer to the reason why I never used to categorise myself as being ‘beautiful’ is because I’ve been fed this unrealistic, fake and genetically unattainable lie from society, ever since I can remember, that I am not enough. I am not enough until I buy this cream that lifts my butt, or that cream to make my waist slimmer. I am not enough until I buy all of these cosmetic products for my face to make me look less like myself, and more like an airbrushed, photo shopped version of what society calls, ‘perfection’. I remember going through magazines as a young girl, eyes wide shut, completely absorbing these unnecessary ‘things’ and overrated products from company’s that don’t care about you at all. They care about your money, your attention, your loyalty to the brand to keep you coming back to keep their profit rolling in.
They package these ‘things’ in pretty little packets with sparkles on them, and you’re so excited! You fall in love with these ‘things’ that somehow you seem that this over priced product fulfills you, so you buy more, and more, and more. Makeup for example, I wear makeup when I feel like it, I can understand how it can make someone feel about themselves. But my problem isn't buying and wearing it, my problem lies with society and media telling us girls and women that we have to look a certain way to be beautiful. It took me 21 years to realise that I fell into this media trap. Actually, I didn’t fall into anything, I was forced, as a little girl till now, that what I see on TV, billboards, online and in magazines, is what I needed to look like to fit in. To me, beauty wasn’t me, and I definitely wasn’t beautiful.
By the age of 12 I was already standing in front of mirrors, comparing my leg size to those legs on page 4 of Womens Weekly. I was clenching at the fat on my stomach wishing I had that minty tea extract cream that all the other celebrities had that helped prevent their stomachs from bloating. 12. I was 12. I hadn’t even had my first step into womanhood yet, and there I was spot picking my body to bits while the other girls ran around outside in outfits I wouldn’t dare to even try on. I felt sad, self conscious, shy, and unhappy.
I have always struggled with my weight and my image. I was overly self conscious of myself as a young girl because I was a little chunkier than the rest, and this was hard for me to deal with at times. I hid my femininity behind baggy clothes and was very much a tom boy at one stage, because if I couldn’t be a dainty little girl like my friends, at least I could bowl around with the boys. I tried all sorts of things to lose weight; skipped all of my meals then binge eat at night, ate nothing at all, juice diets, military diet, fat loss pills, shakes, zero sugar diet, went to the gym for hours and never ate. I tried everything. Nothing. Ever Worked. I felt this way for years until 2016 rolled in.
A special friend of mine introduced me to Veganism and how much it impacted her life. I was intrigued so I decided to learn more about it, as I’ve never met a Vegan before. I will admit, I was a bit stand-offish at the start because bacon. But as I watched more and more youtube videos, read more blogs, talked to her about it more, a light bulb went off and before I knew it, I was Vegan myself. This lifestyle opened my eyes to how greedy this world is, how much we’re hurting our planet rather than taking care of it, and how much our animals are being extremely abused and treated as objects and machines. My mind was blown, my heart was broken, and my world flipped upside down.
I began eating whole plant based foods and within weeks I lost almost 5kg, eating all day everyday and not putting on a pound. I loved it! My body felt renewed, my mind felt strong and mentally healthy. I began living my life the way my heart was telling me to. I began going to the gym again and I felt so good! I fell in love and met a man who too became Vegan. We share the same mind and he has compassion in his heart that is beyond words. He loves me for me, for what I look like, and loves my insecurities with all his heart. We are both now currently studying to become Personal Trainers and spread the message about our lifestyle to people who shared our same struggles in the hopes of changing their lives too.
So, since I started with a question, I may as well end with the same one. When you think of the word “beautiful”, what do you think of first? My answer. Me. You. My flaws and my weaknesses. My mind and my heart for teaching me that no one or anything else can tell me what I need to fit in. My fine haired eyebrows. My beauty marks. My frizzy hair in the mornings. Company’s can keep their creams and their size 0 standards. I’m living, I’m breathing, I'm learning more and more everyday to love who I am. I will never be like the fitness women I am inspired by, but my greatest power is that no one else is me. I eat foods that make me happy and fill me with energy, not starving myself and crying over how hungry I am, or over indulging in the wrong foods and feeling unmotivated. Beauty to me is being big hearted, and learning to accept people for who they are rather than what they look like or have. We all end up in the same place eventually, so don’t let superficial things run your life because there is so much more to feel in your soul than there is to feel in your hands.
You are beautiful. You are enough. No amount of paid for advertising should tell you otherwise.
© Empowered by Erica. Written by Erica Ransfield, 2017